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review 2016-12-24 00:00
Dracula
Dracula - Bram Stoker Dracula - Bram Stoker ~*Full review on The Bent Bookworm!*~
Narration:

The narrators for this Audible Editions version were fabulous. Each character has their own narrator for their various journal entries, letters, etc., and they were all easily distinguished from each other. I listened at 1.25% speed, which helped with the 15 hour, 28 minute length.

Feels:

I was mostly just very intrigued the whole way through! It was so very different than anything I’ve ever read. I was invested in the characters but not terribly attached, if that makes sense. I felt like I learned a lot from this novel, even though it was fiction. I learned a lot about British/European culture at that time, how they looked at the supernatural, and how they looked at women.

Characters:

First of all, let’s get this Count Dracula straight. Dracula is not something out of True Blood or Twilight. He is not sexy. He does not sparkle. He is not emo or hurt and in need of someone to comfort and heal him. He is evil, cruel, barbaric, and intent on taking over the world. Ok, maybe just England, but still. He is imposing and has a certain ability to manipulate people even without his supernatural powers, something that I think must have been a part of even his regular-human personality.

Then you have the other main characters, which starts off with Jonathan Harker and his fiancee’ (later wife) Mina. They are just normal people trying to live a happy life, and suddenly they are thrown into this mess of Dracula’s creating. Jonathan actually travels to Dracula’s castle, never realizing until much later that the Count is much more than a normal man. Mina doesn’t actually meet Dracula until much later, but she has quite an experience with him due to his involvement with her dearest friend, Lucy.

Lucy is the person who actually brings all the other characters together. She is the typical Victorian blushing virgin, and somehow manages to attract marriage proposals from several men all at once. When she becomes a target for some unknown horror, they all come together – not without some awkwardness – to try to help her.

Plot:

The plot can be summed up in two words: vampire slayers. Because while this book takes AGES to get to the point, in the end that’s what it’s about. Vanquishing the evil that is Count Dracula and his minions, preventing him from further colonization. There are a couple of sub-plots, but they really don’t add a whole lot to the story, in my opinion. Like many books of this era, Dracula is very wordy and goes on and on and on about points that most modern readers really don’t care about.

Worldbuilding/Setting:

The castle is on the very edge of a terrible precipice. A stone falling from the window would fall a thousand feet without touching anything! As far as the eye can reach is a sea of green tree tops, with occasionally a deep rift where there is a chasm. Here and there are silver threads where the rivers wind in deep gorges through the forests.
Stoker does a marvelous job of making us see, here, feel, and even smell the setting of Transylvania, the seaside, London. I have absolutely no complaints. I never once felt as though I couldn’t picture the world of the characters. To him of course, the world was HIS world.

Rating/Other Thoughts:

Let me get to these other thoughts before I give my rating.

First of all, the religious atmosphere of this book. It really took me by surprise, but I guess, given that the main characters are British during the 1890s (Queen Victoria’s reign). I was disappointed that the only things (other than garlic) to repel the vampires are relics of the Christian church. I was extremely disappointed by how many pages were devoted to the characters musing on their rightness with God, on whether or not they would go to heaven or hell, and other similar topics. All very accurate to how people thought and believed during that time.

Thus are we ministers of God’s own wish: that the world, and men for whom His Son die, will not be given over to monsters, whose very existence would defame Him. He has allowed us to redeem one soul already, and we go out as the old knights of the Cross to redeem more. Like them we shall travel toward sunrise; and like them, if we fall, we fall in good cause.
Secondly, the treatment of women. Again it’s very accurate to how women in Victorian England were expected to behave, how they were looked at by men and the world at large. Mina Harker, at least, does not entirely accept the traditional role of the fainting female even if she is very willing to accept being the weaker sex. Accurate or not, I find the subservience the female characters demonstrate disturbing. Also disturbing is that Jonathan Harker objects to the female vampire who come to him based solely on the fact that they appear sexually attractive and do not behave like Victoria’s shrinking violet female model. He is attracted to them by their beauty and their open admission of their desire, and yet he feels he sins in the attraction.

I realize that this is all my perspective through a 21st century lens. The points that strike me as repression and bigotry were completely normal and accepted in society at that time. Does that make them right? Of course not. It does explain how and why characters reacted the way they did, however inexplicable their actions seem to a modern reader.

Overall, I’m giving 4 stars. The story, for all its faults, is still gripping even over a hundred years later. Dracula has given rise to countless spin-off tales, even if most modern day readers consider vampires (and werewolves) more sexy than terrifying. Vampires, with their super-human powers of shape changing and manipulation, have enthralled people’s imaginations for decades. I don’t see Dracula leaving the classics list any time soon.

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Holy shit, I FINALLY finished this damn book. Real review to come.
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review 2016-12-01 10:48
Furioser Start des Horrorromans, der mit der Zeit an zunehmenden Blutverlust leidet
Dracula - Bram Stoker

Was mich zu Beginn und bis mehr als zur Hälfte des Romans noch restlos begeistert hat - nämlich die innnovative stilistische Tagebuchform und die unterschiedlichen Erzählperspektiven der handelnden Personen, die alle Aufzeichnungen führen - wurde schlussendlich zum größten Ärgernisfaktor in diesem ansonsten so brillianten Roman. Sobald die Vampirjägertruppe so bei ca. Seite 300 auch physisch zusammengekommen ist und alle handelnden Personen dieselben Dinge erleben, wendet sich diese Innovation gegen sich selbst, da alle Tagebuchaufzeichnungen unentwegt untereinander abgeglichen werden, und ein und dasselbe Ereignis permanent aus unterschiedlichen Sichten so lange wiedergekäut wird, bis es komplett ausgelutscht und blutleer ist. So geschehen zum Beispiel bei dem Ereignis des Wundmals durch die Hostie, das ich mindestens SECHS Mal aus unterschiedlichen Perspektiven und zu unterschiedlichen Zeitpunkten immer und immer wieder lesen musste. Ich weiss, dass es 1897 noch kein professionelles Lektorat gegeben hat, aber eine helfende Hand mit einem Rotstift, die absatzweise diese unsäglichen und seehr langweiligen Redundanzen herausstreicht und eliminiert, hätten dem Roman sehr geholfen und ihn ohne viel Aufwand auf 5 Sterne geschraubt. Ich hatte das Gefühl: Je länger der Roman dauert, desto mehr Blut verliert er - fast ist es so, als ob Dracula höchstpersönlich sukzessive alles Leben aus ihm herausgesaugt hätte. Sogar das Finale ist sehr lapidar und kein bisschen mehr spannend. Aber wie gesagt - 100 Seiten weniger und meine Kritik wäre obsolet.

Ansonsten inhaltlich und sprachlich sehr ansprechend und genial: Wundervolle Beschreibungen von  Landschaften, Kultur und gruselig abergläubischer Landbevölkerung, von Gebäuden wie das Schloss oder das Irrenhaus, liebevolle Entwicklung von allen Figuren insbesondere den Antagonisten wie dem verrrückten Renfield, dem Grafen,...

Großartige Sittenbilder der Entstehungszeit z.B.  kannte man 1897 keine Blutgruppen. Das ist schon sehr putzig beschrieben, dass die Qualität der Transfusion von der Rechtschaffenheit & Konstitution des Spender-Mannes abhing - Frauen wurden gar nicht als qualitiativ geeignet betrachtet. Am lustigsten fand ich die philosophische Auseinandersetzung mit dem Konzept der Aufklärung in einem fantastischen Horrorroman. Alle Figuren versicherten sich nachdrücklich bei Erleben des fantastischen Horrors unentwegt der eigenen Modernität und Wissenschaftlichkeit.
"Wer hätte wohl noch vor einem Jahr, inmitten unseres wissenschaftlichen, skeptischen, nur an Tatsachen orientierten neunzehnten Jahrhunderts eine solche Möglichkeit auch nur in Erwägung gezogen?"

Spannend ist auch noch, wie originalgetreu eigentlich manche Filme waren, die ich zum Thema Dracula gesehen hab. Fast alles ist schon der Feder von Bram Stoker entsprungen und nicht der der Filmemacher. Im Prinzip hat Stoker die alten Legenden zwar zusammengefasst, aber die Figur Dracula quasi im Alleingang mit all ihren Stärken und Schwächen erfunden und geprägt.

Fazit: Eigentlich 3,5 Sterne, aber weil mich das Buch zum Ende hin gar so genervt hat, kann ich ums verrecken nicht auf 4 Sterne aufrunden. Nichtsdestotrotz eine Lese-Bildungslücke, die es wert ist, gestopft zu werden.

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text 2016-11-24 17:20
Update on my reading life
Broken Monsters - Lauren Beukes
Dracula - Bram Stoker,Tim Curry,Alan Cumming,Simon Vance
And Then There Were None - Agatha Christie,Dan Stevens
Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman - Robert K. Massie
Planetfall - Emma Newman
So You've Been Publicly Shamed - Jon Ronson

Hi everybody,

the last couple of weeks have been super busy for me, so I didn´t have that much time to drop in here on a regular basis. Add to this that I´m having the weirdest reading month ever, since I manage to finish up on my audiobooks while I´m dragging my way through my physical books. Apparently I´m not in the mood to read with my eyes.

I was planning to participate in the 12 tasks of christmas, but I don´t think I have the time rigth now. But I will definitely make a post about hygge. You can count on that.

 

These books I have finished so far this month:

 

Broken Monsters: Not a favorite of mine. You can find my review here

 

Dracula: The narration of this audiobook is amazing and Alan Cumming could narrate the phone book for all I care and I would be one happy listener. But I´m not completely satisfied by the book itself. As good as the first half of the book is, I didn´t like the second half of it that much. Mainly because I couldn´t stand Van Helsing and him constantly saying "fair madam Mina" and "My good friend Jonathan". And I´m flabbergasted by the sheer stupidity the men put on display when it comes to Mina and

count Dracula´s visits to her bedroom.

(spoiler show)

 

And Then There Were None: An excellent story and an excellent narrator (Dan Stevens), who gives all of the characters a distinctive voice. I´m currently watching the 2015 BBC-Adaption with Aidan Turner, Charles Dance, Sam Neill, Toby Stephens and Miranda Richardson and it´s brilliant as well.

 

 

And these are the books I´m currently reading:

 

Catherine the Great: A memoir of Catherine the Great, empress of Russia. I´m really loving this book and Massey truly makes history come alive. I´m about halfway through and I just needed a little break from this book, because the political chapters are a bit more dense than the chapters where the personal drama is going on (and there is a LOT of personal drama in Catherines life).

 

Planetfall: There is some great worldbuildung in this book and I really like that the author focuses on the very troubled main character instead of focusing on the mystery surrounding the colony. I will definitely finish this book over the next couple of days,

 

So You´ve Been Publicly Shamed: The author Jon Ronson narrates this audiobook himself and he brings the right amount of compassion to his narration. Ronson takes a look at the lives of people, who have been publicly shamed and the psychology behind the phenomenon of public shaming. I´m fascinated by this topic and this audiobook has the "I´m just going to listen to one more chapter"- effect.

 

Last but not least: A happy thanksgiving to all my American Booklikes friends :).

 

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review 2016-11-08 19:26
Going beyond an author's famous work
The Lair of the White Worm & The Lady of the Shroud - Bram Stoker

Sometimes you come across a lesser known work by a famous author (especially if they're famous for one work only) and it's astonishing just how different it is from their crowning achievement. This is what happened when I came across two books by Bram Stoker which were collected into one volume. Bram Stoker's name is nearly synonymous with vampire because of Dracula but that was not the only book that he wrote. The introduction to the two books discusses how Dracula eclipsed his later (and earlier) writings and he goes on at length about Stoker's merits as a writer. I give all of this background because if I hadn't already read Dracula then I would be very hard-pressed to do so after reading The Lair of the White Worm and The Lady of the Shroud. It's not that they were the worst books I had ever read but there wasn't anything noteworthy about them and truly it took me far longer to plod through them than I would have liked.

 

In brief, The Lair of the White Worm focuses on a young man named Adam Salton who discovers that he has a relative outside of his native Australia who very much wants to meet him. After arriving, he is drawn into a supernatural melodrama which concerns virtually everyone in the neighborhood. As the title of the book suggests, there is a myth concerning a giant white worm which was thought to once be a dragon that terrorized the land. Myth states that the lair may still house the creature but by this time it may have evolved into a more human shape. Adam and his co-conspirators are charged with discovering if the myth is indeed factual and if so then to destroy the creature before it causes irreversible damage. There's romance (much sped up), intrigue, racial slurs (addressed in the introduction which didn't help), and Drama. Yes, I said Drama. If this was supposed to leave me quaking in my boots then it utterly failed. I didn't find this in the least frightening. However, I did find it incredibly predictable. I'd give it a 4/10 and that's probably being generous.

 

The second book in the collection, The Lady of the Shroud, was somewhat better. For one thing, it was slightly less predictable than The Lair of the White Worm. There were definitely more twists and turns so the danger that the characters faced seemed more ramped up and exciting. There were a few things working against it though. For example, the two main characters were completely without flaws which kept me from fully immersing myself in the story. A giant of a man who is good at every single thing that he does? A woman with stars in her eyes (I am not paraphrasing. This was the description of her eyes every single time.) who merely by a look conveys every emotion that imparts grace and goodness? Besides that, it was most definitely too long. I am convinced that the story could have been told in a much more concise manner. By dragging things out, my interest was eventually strained and I was looking ahead to see how many pages I had left until the end. And that was not in the "oh no I'm nearly finished whatever will I do with my time now?!" kind of way either. I'd say this was probably a 5.5/10.

 

As always, I encourage you to take a look at the book(s) and form your own opinions. It could be that I was expecting too much because Dracula created a precedent of excellence. Ah well!

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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text 2016-11-07 11:16
Reading progress update: I've listened 364 out of 928 minutes.
Dracula - Bram Stoker,Tim Curry,Alan Cumming,Simon Vance

"A brave man´s blood is the best thing on this earth when a woman is in trouble."

 

No, that´s not how blood transfusions work:

 

Either the woman is AB negative and a universal blood recipient (which is highly unlikely, because only approximately 4% of earths population have this bloodgroup) or the four men all have the same bloodgroup of 0 negative and thus being universal blood donors. And this is even more unlikely. 

 

I guess I have to accept that Luca Westenra is so special that her bloodgroup actually is AB negative.

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